World’s top climate experts to testify in landmark investigation into fossil fuel companies

Press release - August 28, 2018
Quezon City, Philippines, 28 August 2018 - Some of the world’s most highly-regarded climate change science, policy, research, and legal experts will appear as witnesses in the ongoing hearings by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) on the responsibility of 47 fossil fuel companies for the global climate crisis.

The hearing, the third in the series, is part of the CHR investigation looking into the role of companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Suncor and Repsol, in worsening climate change and its impacts on people’s lives. It was triggered by a petition filed in 2015 before the CHR by representatives of communities across the Philippines.

“The Commission on Human Rights is taking a bold step with its inquiry on how the products of 47 major fossil fuel companies have changed the global atmosphere and the companies’ potential accountability for violating the human rights of Filipinos,” said Richard Heede, Co-founder and Director of the Climate Accountability Institute, based in the United States.

On 29 and 30 August, these international experts will present their published research findings into the industry’s contribution to climate change, and how these companies knew about the risks but chose to mislead the public. Experts will also explain how climate change is harming Filipinos and the legal basis for corporate accountability for climate change.[1]

Richard Heede, one of five international experts, is the principal investigator of the Carbon Majors Project.[2] In 2013, he published a study that aggregated historical emissions according to carbon producing entities themselves. The study found that nearly two-thirds of carbon dioxide emitted since the 1750s can be traced to the 90 largest fossil fuel and cement producers, including the 47 companies being investigated by the CHR.[3]

“These companies have known for decades that their products would cause climate-related harm to populations and nations around the world, yet did little to minimise the risk, apparently preferring to protect profits over people. The Commission’s Inquiry should serve as a warning to fossil fuel producers that not aligning their business objectives with global science-based targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide threatens their long term viability,” said Heede.

National experts who have studied climate change impacts in the Philippines will also be appearing at the hearing, as well as community witnesses - those who have personally experienced and suffered at the hands of climate change.

“In just two hours, Haiyan wiped away whole communities and everything we worked hard for. I was devastated by the friends I lost, but for those who survived, our fighting spirit lives on,” said Arthur Golong, a transgender community leader from Tacloban city, which was severely impacted by super typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.

“The Philippines experiences up to 20 typhoons a year and climate change is throwing more anger into the eye of the storm. At some point there needs to be accountability and global change, for the sake of small cities like Tacloban and everywhere else around the world.”

With the global spread of heatwaves and wildfires currently happening across the northern hemisphere, and floods, droughts and severe storms in other parts of the world, the chain of events is consistent with the predictions of a climate changed world.[4]

“This investigation can shift global understanding of corporate responsibility for climate change by bringing attention to the role of fossil fuel companies in creating the climate crisis,” said Desiree Llanos Dee, Campaigner from Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines.

“The witnesses who will be testifying have years of experience and have solid evidence pointing to what these carbon majors knew, but chose not to act upon, about their businesses’ impact on the climate. We are confident that this will be a major turning point in these human rights hearings and these companies will finally be forced to take responsibility for their actions.”

The next series of hearings will take place in New York on September 27-28, followed by other hearings and consultations happening throughout the rest of the year in London and Manila.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

[1]The following international experts will be testifying: Richard Heede, Co-founder and Director, Climate Change Accountability; Geoffrey J. Supran, PhD, Postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Carroll Muffett, President and CEO of Center for International Environmental Law; Glenn S. Hodes, Climate Policy and Development expert; Sophie Marjanac, Lawyer, Climate and Financial Accountability Projects, ClientEarth.

[2] Find information on the Carbon Majors Project here: http://www.climateaccountability.org/

[3] Heede, Richard (2013) Tracing anthropogenic CO2 and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854-2010, Climatic Change, online 21 November; doi:10.1007/s10584-013-0986-y.

[4] McDiarmind, Bunny, Executive Director, Greenpeace International (2018), Let’s talk about climate change.  https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/17981/greenpeace-climate-change-fires-heatwave-extreme-weather-ipcc/

   

See also, IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp.

Images of extreme weather around the world: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJWTP8LY

 

 

Contacts:

Desiree Llanos Dee, Climate Justice Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines

+639985959733,

 

Hasminah Paudac, Legal Advisor, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines

+639178370911,

 

JP Agcaoili, Communications Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines +639498891334,  

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours),

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